Kristina Tsamis: Let’s talk about the landscape for upcoming 4G phones. There’s a lot of buzz about the HTC Thunderbolt, The LG Revolution and the Motorola Droid Bionic. What do you think are the hottest 4G phones for 2011?
Molly McLaughlin: The HTC Thunderbolt is the first Android phone since the Droid X on the Verizon network to have an 8-megapixel camera. It also has a 1GHz processor which would lead you to expect better speeds. There’s also a Samsung phone that has been referred to by its model name: the SCH-i520. That also has a 1GHz processor and an 8-megapixel camera. Both of these phones seem promising.
Then there’s the Motorola Droid Bionic and the LG Revolution. The LG Revolution has a mobile hotspot built in for both 3G and 4G, which is interesting. Most of these phones also have front-facing cameras for video chat which makes them a little more competitive with Apple’s iPhone. These are all expected out sometime in the next few months.
KT: Speaking of Apple, the iPhone recently switched over to Verizon and many are disappointed that it does not support 4G. Do you think not incorporating 4G was a bad move for Apple?
MM: It’s definitely disappointing that the iPhone does not incorporate 4G—especially since right before the announcement Verizon was showing off its LTE network and its upcoming phones. It’s not even definite that the next iPhone that is due out in June will be 4G either, which is a little head-scratching. But Apple tends to take its time incorporating carrier features. While it is disappointing, it really depends where you live in the country. If you live in New York City, 4G is there and you probably want a phone that has that technology. But for Verizon, 4G is not projected to blanket the country until 2014. Right now the middle of the country and much of the Southwest is completely without 4G coverage. So, you have to weigh the amount of coverage that’s out there and the technology available. I don’t think it will hurt Apple’s sales but it will be interesting to see, if we have to wait another year for a 4G phone, what kind of technology will be out there that may be better.
KT: There are a number of debates about 4G technologies. Some question whether WiMAX and LTE can work hand in hand. Others argue that HSPA+ is not really 4G. I was wondering what your take is on these 4G networks?
MM: To start, WiMAX has much better coverage and is more established and widely available. The LTE networks are promising faster speeds, but that remains untested for now. We can’t quite say yet what is better because right now LTE is much smaller than WiMAX. HSPA+, which some people call 3.5G, may not be as fast as LTE and WiMAX but it is living up to its promises and is available on more devices. In addition, T-Mobile has plans to launch LTE in the next few years so that will be another game-changer.
So, to summarize: WiMax has better coverage, LTE is supposedly faster and HSPA+ has more portable devices. It’s sort of a waiting game to see what wins out.
For Molly’s take on the top 4G cell phones currently on the market, check out part one of this interview.
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